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Palace of Culture and Science

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Identification

Palace of Culture and Science
Pałac Kultury i Nauki
111508

Map

Structure in General

skyscraper
existing [completed]
steel
limestone
applied masonry
russian-soviet architecture

Usages

commercial office
governmental office shop(s) cinema museum theater/opera

Facts

  • On July 22, 1955 the completed Palace of Culture and Science was officially handed over to Polish society at large as a "gift" from Soviet nation in the name of Joseph Stalin.
  • The main design team composed four architects: Lew Rudniev, Alexander Hriakov, Igor Rozyn and Alexander Wielikanov.
  • Tallest skyscraper in central Europe when completed, and still one of the tallest in the continent.
  • A rumor that the Palace has 5 underground floors is false; however the two existing basements are each 5 meters tall.
  • The masonry work was completed on October 1953.
  • Shortly after completion, this mostly unwanted gift has become a subject of numerous jokes among the Polish citizens opposed to the Communist government.
  • The idea to fund the Palace of Culture and Science first appeared in an agreement between the USSR and the People's Republic of Poland on April 5, 1952 as a "proof of friendship" of the Soviet nation to the Polish.
  • A public observation deck is available on the 30th floor.
  • Construction started on July 21, 1952 and lasted 1175 days.
  • Over 550 ornamental sculptures decorate the building. Almost all of them were cast especially for the Palace by a factory in Estonia.
  • Around 7000 Russian and Polish workers, evenly split, were working at the construction site.
  • Right after its opening in 1955 the Palace was closed to the general public, and only those with a pass could enter. This restriction led to the circulation of many myths about the structure.
  • The ornamentation is modeled on decorative elements of Polish architecture. Combined with the buildings's monumentalism, this inspired Warsawers to baptize the Palace as 'an elephant in lacy underwear'.
  • With room for over 2800 places, the Congress Hall has entertained such celebrities as Marlene Dietrich, Jan Kiepura, Jacques Brel, Dalida, The Rolling Stones, Luciano Pavarotti, Eric Clapton and many others.
  • Shortly after completion the Palace became a popular place for suicides. The first suicide was a French man who deemed it a more honorable place to die than the Tour Eiffel.
  • The fountains in front of the building used to serve the additional purpose of cooling the water for the Palace.
  • On December 31, 2000 a 6-meter diameter clock was exposed on each of the four sides of the tower. This makes the Palace of Culture & Science the second-tallest clock tower in the world, after NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Building in Tokyo.
  • A smaller version of this palace, similar in both appearance and origin, is the Academy of Sciences in Riga, Latvia.
  • Holds all main height records for Poland except highest occupied floor, held by Warsaw Trade Tower and number of floors, held by InterContinental Warszawa.
  • It was officially confirmed by Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Wiatcheslav Molotov during his visit to Warsaw on July 3, 1952.
  • The issue of the usage of the future skyscraper was primarly undecided. The Soviet authorities were planning an university modeled on Lomonosov Moscow State University Main Building while the Polish would rather see a center of culture and science.
  • The first proposed height of a planned skyscraper was 100 meters but talks between Soviet and Polish architects raised the final height to 230 meters.
  • Excavation began on May 1, 1952, which was an important date for socialist propaganda, coinciding with May Day.
  • Five different locations were initially proposed as possible sites for this building.

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More Information

Location

Plac Defilad 1
Ulica Emilii Plater 34
Plac Defilad 1
00-901
Śródmieście
Warsaw
Masovian
Poland

Technical Data

756.82 ft
756.82 ft
550.13 ft
524.93 ft
374.02 ft
43
Jul 1952
Jul 1955
28
750

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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • Observation floor is available
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